MARGATE, N.J. — Advocates of building a boardwalk in Margate advanced their cause over the weekend with a 26-page report that outlines three different ways to bring back a boardwalk in this affluent beach town “for the 21st century.”
Quoting Margaret Mead, the Drifters, T.S. Eliot, and Nelson Mandela, the report described three different versions of plans to build a 1.6-mile boardwalk that has been missing in Margate since the Hurricane of 1944.
One, a “stripped-down” 20-foot-wide boardwalk with 25 to 35 ramps, no pavilions or bike path, and basic LED lighting would cost $14 million.
The second, also 20-feet wide, would be a “Ventnor-style” boardwalk imitating the adjacent existing wooden walkway in Ventnor. It would feature 30 to 40 ramps, solar-powered LED lighting, and three to four pavilions with water fountains. It would cost $19 million.
The third, a “Uniquely Margate” boardwalk at 27 feet wide, would have the most bells and whistles and cost $24 million. It would feature 35 to 40 ramps, three to four pavilions with restrooms, outside showers and foot showers.
Glenn Klotz has been spearheading the Margate Boardwalk movement for the last year as a way to compensate for what many residents feel has been a botched, unwanted dune project that left dead space between the dunes and the bulkhead and unsightly outfall pipes on what once were Margate’s signature flat beaches.
He said about 100 people turned out Saturday for a presentation, including, unexpectedly, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson and former Egg Harbor Township Mayor Sonny McCullough.
Klotz said the next stage is to gather petitions to persuade the Margate commissioners to approve the project, or put it up for a referendum. As it stands, many in Margate now journey across the municipal border all summer to use the 1.5-mile boardwalk in Ventnor that extends another four miles through Atlantic City.
“We don’t have to educate people in Margate,” Klotz said. “These are educated people. They know what a boardwalk is. They use it.”
Klotz has argued that the beach replenishment and dune project basically created a beach designed to protect a boardwalk, so why not build one?
“Erasing the dunes [and] pipes and returning to the past is not possible,” the report states. "The changes to our beach brought by the state and Army Corp of Engineers will be with us for a very long time.
"Ironically there is a silver lining in this situation — a viable solution that transforms the damage done by the dunes and the 'Dead Zone’ into an asset.”
In the presentation, committee members outlined various grant opportunities available with each of the three versions of the boardwalk (there are more with a dedicated bike path).
And they detailed a report from Stockton University criminal justice professor Marissa Levy, who concluded that a boardwalk in Margate would not attract crime and would, rather, “increase informal surveillance" that would deter crimes like burglaries.
In addition, Levy concluded, the boardwalk would improve safety for pedestrians, runners, and bicyclists who now use Atlantic Avenue.
Levinson, the county executive, said he attended out of curiosity but allowed that the case, at least from some perspectives, was a “no-brainer.”
“Everybody that doesn’t live in Margate would love to have a boardwalk in Margate,” he said. “It’s going to be up to the taxpayers of Margate.”
Levinson said no county money would be available for a boardwalk in Margate, which organizers say could be funded through various grants, financing and taxpayer money.
Klotz said the committee concluded that “the actual cost of the Margate boardwalk to individual homeowners is quite small,” amounting to between $110 to $190 annually. And that, he said, using a relatable equivalency, amounts to “one dinner out for four people.”